In Luke 21 Christ is talking to His disciples who have asked Him what the sign will be that “these things” are about to take place. The time of the end is the context: Nations are rising up against nations, kingdom against kingdom. There are famines, pestilences and great earthquakes in various places.
As we go further away from these beginning signs which we can observe today it’s going to get more difficult for God’s people as the end times draw nearer. It becomes more intensely personal in terms of our relationships, even our family relationships are going to be problematic: “You will be betrayed even by parents and brothers, relatives and friends; and they will put some of you to death. And you will be hated by all for My name’s sake. But not a hair of your head shall be lost” (Luke 21:16-18).
Christ qualifies verse 17 by saying in Luke 21.19: “By your patience possess your souls.” It does indicate that there is something that we need to be doing, as we get deeper into the end time. The same events in Luke 21 are outlined in Matthew 24. However, in Luke 21:19 there is a slight variation from Matthew. In Matthew 10:22, it is recorded that Jesus Christ said, “you will be hated by all”, but followed up with “He who endures to the end shall be saved.”
“Patience” in Luke 21:19 and “endure” in Matthew 24:13 are exactly the same word: hupomone. Not a personality trait, but a trait of God’s Spirit. Luke is telling us to take heed at this time meaning that pressure will come on God’s people to test their endurance and patience. And the implication is there is action required on our part in preparation to deal with this time. We will need the ability to be pressed down with adversity but being able to cheerfully keep pressing forward. This testing of our faith develops patience and endurance. And that patience will have an impact upon your soul. I use the word “soul” because it is translated from “psuche”. It just means our life. It can refer to our heart, our mind, or our life. It’s what we are. It will have an impact on what you are.
Times of suffering and trial are intended to have a positive result on our lives. “Therefore be patient, brethren, until the coming of the Lord. See how the farmer waits for the precious fruit of the earth, waiting patiently for it until it receives the early and latter rain. You also be patient. Establish your hearts, for the coming of the Lord is at hand. . . . Indeed we count them blessed who endure. You have heard of the perseverance of Job and seen the end intended by the Lord—that the Lord is very compassionate and merciful. But above all, my brethren, do not swear, either by heaven or by earth or with any other oath. But let your “Yes” be “Yes,” and your “No,” “No,” lest you fall into judgment” (James 5:7-8,11-12). Our “Yes” and “No” are formulated in our hearts where godly character is being built. Correct and truthful answers will reflect hearts filled with that character.
James also points us to the prophets as examples of suffering and patience (James 5:10). There’s a great deal to be gleaned from the prophets and the way they interacted with God and God interacted with them, what they suffered as they did God’s will, but we see the end of it as well: “Now all these things happened to them as examples… and they were written for our admonition, upon whom the ends of the ages have come. . . . but God is faithful, who will not allow you to be tempted beyond what you are able, but with the temptation will also make the way of escape, that you may be able to bear it” (1 Corinthians 10:11,13).
He doesn’t promise to remove the adversities. He doesn’t promise to remove the trials, because they are a part of the entire process of the development of the character and nature of the family of God. But He does provide the ability to bear it. “Possess” means to get, to acquire, to own. In other words, by your patience, be in control of your life.
There is a “spirit in man” which enables our minds to attach to this physical world (Job 32.8). It’s a spirit that Satan can influence if we are not in control of our lives. If we have a mind driven by God’s Holy Spirit, our minds can be disconnected from the physical world and be attached to God’s spiritual world.
It is our duty to secure possession of our lives so that the deteriorating physical/mental world does not damage it. In Romans 2, Paul gives us a motivational statement about the value of patience: “[God] will render to each one according to his deeds (our actions)”: eternal life to those who by patient continuance in doing good seek for glory, honor, and immortality;” (Romans 2:6-7).
When the Israelites were baptized in the Red Sea the symbolism was the death of an old way of life: “Or do you not know that as many of us as were baptized into Christ Jesus were baptized into His death? Therefore we were buried with Him through baptism into death, that just as Christ was raised from the dead by the glory of the Father, even so we also should walk in newness of life” (Romans 6:3-4).
At baptism we symbolically buried the old, carnal self. We come to see the evilness of human nature when it remains under the influence of Satan. We come to understand the personal aspect of that within our minds.
“For if we have been united together in the likeness of His death, certainly we also shall be in the likeness of His resurrection, knowing this, that our old man was crucified with Him, that the body of sin might be done away with, that we should no longer be slaves of sin. For he who has died has been freed from sin (the penalty of sin is lifted). Now if we died with Christ, we believe that we shall also live with Him, knowing that Christ, having been raised from the dead, dies no more. Death no longer has dominion over Him. For the death that He died, He died to sin once for all; but the life that He lives, He lives to God. Likewise you also, reckon yourselves to be dead indeed to sin, but alive to God in Christ Jesus our Lord” (Romans 6:5-11). It is a continual process to get rid of this old man.
“Therefore do not let sin reign in your mortal body, that you should obey it in its lusts. And do not present your members as instruments of unrighteousness to sin, but present yourselves to God as being alive from the dead, and your members as instruments of righteousness to God. For sin shall not have dominion over you, for you are not under law but under grace” (Romans 6:12-14). So, sin is not to have power over us for God’s Spirit is a spirit of love, power, and a sound mind (2 Timothy 1:7).
We do express our faith in our act of baptism which intimately ties us to Jesus Christ’s death. That He died for of us personally. “Therefore, having been justified by faith, we have peace with God through our Lord Jesus Christ,” (Romans 5:1). He then acknowledges there are going to be tribulations and they are not contradictory. We have peace of mind as we deal with tribulations:
“And not only that, but we also glory in tribulations, knowing that tribulation produces perseverance; and perseverance, character; and character, hope. Now hope does not disappoint, because the love of God has been poured out in our hearts by the Holy Spirit who was given to us” (Romans 5:3–5). Hope does not disappoint; however, if we are going to patiently endure, we are going to need to have that hope that comes through faith.
As we look at what is developing in our nations, we need to be very objective and not thinking that we have this trouble because of that person over there, or that leader over there, or that country over there. Humanity is in the trouble nationally and personally because we have all turned our backs on the Creator God.
I read something a couple of days ago and I’d like to share. “World events have taken a starkly terrifying turn. As of this writing, Vladimir Putin continues his criminal assault on Ukraine with the aim of subjecting that nation to his tsar-like [control]. The Ukrainians can have autonomy, but I’m going to control their foreign policy and how they structure themselves. Beyond territorial conquest, Putin intends to prove that the liberal international order is defunct – that Russia, in the words of a Kremlin-issued statement, ‘has not only challenged the West, but it has also shown that the era of Western global domination can be considered completely and finally over.’
“That crisis makes all the more urgent the need to examine the cultural roots of our current political challenges, both on the national and international levels.”
Those challenges include a growing attraction to authoritarian leaders, disregard for democratic practices and safeguards, and extremes of partisanship that verge on civil warfare. Needed, in other words, is sustained critical analysis of what has brought the United States and other Western nations to a moment of such vulnerability.
It’s happening exactly as God said it would: If you obey Me, you’ll have all of these blessings. I will honor My promises to Abraham. You will experience all these wonderful blessings. But if you don’t acknowledge Me and you don’t obey Me and you turn away from Me these things will happen, (Deuteronomy 28: 1-13, 15-20).
Those who have a “Spirit-led mind” can make a sustained, critical analysis of the “why” of the Western nation’s vulnerability and arrive at correct conclusions. God has called followers of Christ to do that. Paul made it clear to the Ephesians: “that the God of our Lord Jesus Christ, the Father of glory, may give to you the spirit of wisdom and revelation in the knowledge of Him, the eyes of your understanding being enlightened; that you might know what is the hope of His calling. . .” (Ephesians 1:17-18). We all have the ability to hope. However, humanity without God will never reach the right conclusions. Hope is real. But you can’t touch what you are seeing in your mind.
That wisdom and understanding helps us to “walk worthy of the Lord, fully pleasing Him, being fruitful in every good work and increasing in the knowledge of God; strengthened with all might, according to His glorious power, for all [endurance] and patience with joy;” (Colossians 1:10-11). If we don’t have patience and endurance the adversities that are coming are going to have a negative effect.
“Therefore do not cast away your confidence, which has great reward. For you have need of endurance, so that after you have done the will of God, you may receive the promise:” (Hebrews 10:35-36). The promise is eternal life. “Therefore, since we are surrounded by so great a cloud of witnesses (in Hebrews 11), let us lay aside every weight, and the sin which so easily ensnares us and let us run with endurance the race that is set before us, looking to Jesus, the author and finisher of our faith who for the joy that was set before Him endured the cross, despising the shame, and has sat down at the right hand of the throne of God” (Hebrews 12:1-2).
We have to deal with the sin which so easily ensnares us day by day and put that out of our lives by keeping our eyes on the Originator and the Perfector of our faith. God’s Spirit can create a new life within each one of us. Through Christ the new man wins:
“For we were saved in this hope, but hope that is seen is not hope; for why does one still hope for what he sees? But if we hope for what we do not see, we eagerly wait for it with perseverance” (Romans 8:24–25). In any trial we can envision the result that God is working towards. “For whatever things were written before were written for our learning, that we through the patience and comfort of the Scriptures might have hope” (Romans 15:4).
If we put sin out of our lives and patiently endure in that way of life, hope will build a new life. “I would have lost heart, unless I had believed That I would see the goodness of the LORD In the land of the living. Wait on the LORD; Be of good courage, And He shall strengthen your heart; Wait, I say, on the LORD!” (Psalm 27:13-14).
He will give us the strength to deal with what’s going on in this world, in the land of the living. It does take faith. It takes hope. It takes the ability to see beyond this physical realm.
“Rest in the LORD, and wait patiently for Him; Do not fret because of him who prospers in his way, Because of the man who brings wicked schemes to pass. Cease from anger, and forsake wrath; Do not fret—it only causes harm. For evildoers shall be cut off; But those who wait on the LORD, They shall inherit the earth. For yet a little while and the wicked shall be no more; Indeed, you will look carefully for his place, But it shall be no more. But the meek shall inherit the earth, And shall delight themselves in the abundance of peace” (Psalm 37:7–11).
As a follower of The Father and Jesus Christ, “By your patience, possess your soul.”